A seminar to discuss the potential of religious tourism with a view to capitalising on the many popular religious sites throughout the region and the possibility of developing pilgrimage trails, is to be held at the National Museum of Country Life in Castlebar on June 29 next.
Sixty tourism businesses from across the West and North West regions will meet with four European best practice religious heritage destinations at the seminar, which is part of the European Union’s Interreg Atlantic Area Programme. An additional 100 participants including tourism businesses, local authorities, Ireland West Airport Knock, regional and local agencies, and community groups are also expected to be represented.
The event is run in conjunction with the regional tourism authority for the Santiago de Compostela region in Spain which manages one of the most significant pilgrimage trails in the world – The Camino.
Speaking about the forthcoming event, Eva Dearie of Fáilte Ireland stated: “The World Religious Tourism Association (2008 ) estimated that 200 million visitors engaged in pilgrimage journeys in the 1990s and, by 2000, numbers had increased to 240 million. Other estimates state that faith based tourism serves some 300 million travellers and produces an estimated $18 billion in revenue each year.”
Ms Dearie added that in 2009 Fáilte Ireland delivered a year long training programme to more than 60 businesses in the region and is now in the process of delivering on a new brand for this niche area. “Fifteen wonderful experiences have been delivered by the businesses and can be viewed on www.discoverireland.ie/Culture-and-Heritage/Christian-Heritage,” she said.